The editorial of the first " Vegan News" stated, "We can see quite plainly that our present civilisation is built upon the exploitation of animals, just as past civilisations were built upon the exploitation of slaves..." (This was an early hint that non-dairy vegetarianism was destined to be no more than one part of the general philosophy of the new movement.) The third issue (May, 1945) stated that veganism was the practice of living upon fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains and other wholesome non-animal foods. (It would perhaps have been more accurate to have said, not that veganism is, but that it involves, living upon such foods.) The fourth issue (August, 1945) stated, "The object of The Vegan Society is to oppose the exploitation of sentient life, whether it is profitable to do so or not." (This is a considerable widening of the original "non-dairy" motivation.)
The Vegan Society was formed in the constitutional sense on March 15th, 1947, when a special general meeting adopted for the first time a set of rules. There was, however, still no attempt to find an agreed definition of veganism. Rule 2, which laid down three of the many possible "aims" of the Society, was — and is — quite silent about many other aims which might equally be regarded as being "vegan." The stated aims refer only to diet, commodities, and the spreading of vegan teaching. They do not mention other aims which might equally be regarded as being vegan — such aims, for example, as opposition to hunting, vivisection, performing animals, and the castration and enslavement of animals for transport and other work. Above all, they are not, nor do they pretend to be, a definition of veganism.
"An Address on Veganism" (Donald Watson, 1947), contains phrases such as the following: "...the right approach to the problem of animal emancipation" ... "to be true emancipators of animals" ... "The vegan renounces the superstition that continued human existence depends upon the exploitation of these creatures," and " The time has come for us boldly to renounce the idea that we have the right to exploit animals." Similar ideas are embodied in the "Manifesto" on veganism and other writings. The thread that runs through the literature on this point is a conviction that for the sake of both man and his fellow creatures, the animals must one day be freed from his exploitations.
If vegan thought was running true, veganism is therefore a movement of reform. If this is accepted, it is but one step in simple logic to assert that The Vegan Society is at the earliest possible moment in duty bound to define veganism, and so state the over-all reform it wishes to see achieved. It is equally in duty bound to confine its basic energies to pursuing that reform. The position in which the Society finds itself — without any constitutionally agreed over-all purpose binding upon its members — is accounted for solely by the nature of its development to date. In this sense, the Society is still in a state of pre-natal growth. But this is not satisfactory as a permanency, for undefined reform is a contradiction in terms.
It is possible to subtract from the foregoing a number of observations which lead to a definition: (1) veganism is a reform; (2) the impelling element is compassion for animals arising out of the treatment meted out to them by man; (3) its fundamental concern is with the meeting point between the world of man and the world of the animals; (4) its existence presupposes maladjustment at that point; (5) its purpose must be the correction of that maladjustment; (6) the maladjustment is intimately connected with man's use of animals — more precisely, with his habit of acting as a parasite upon living creatures who cannot successfully resist his will. Any definition of veganism must contain these six observations and violate none of them.
Veganism, however, is a principle — that man has no right to exploit the creatures for his own ends — and no variation occurs. Vegan diet is therefore derived entirely from "fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains and other wholesome non-animal products," and excludes "flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey and animal milk and its derivatives."
In a vegan world the creatures would be reintegrated within the balance and sanity of nature as she is in herself. A great and historic wrong, whose effect upon the course of evolution must have been stupendous, would be righted. The idea that his fellow creatures might be used by man for self-interested purposes would be so alien to human thought as to be almost unthinkable. In this light, veganism is not so much welfare as liberation, for the creatures and for the mind and heart of man; not so much an effort to snake the present relationship bearable, as an uncompromising recognition that because it is in the main one of master and slave, it has to be abolished before something better and finer can be built. Veganism is in truth an affirmation that where love is, exploitation vanishes.